Iran Rejects French Calls to Stop Developing Missile Program

Iran foreign minister criticises EU ‘extremism’ towards Tehran

Iran Foreign Ministers Mohammad Javad Zarif has slammed the European Union for 'extremism' in an interview. – EPA pic

Washington put pressure on the European signatories of the agreement to impose some clauses against the Iranian missile program that does not fall within the spirit and letter of the nuclear agreement.

"Iran's missile program will continue nonstop and foreign powers have no right to intervene on this issue", the semiofficial Tasnim news agency quoted Masud Jazayeri as saying.

In his meeting with Foreign Minister Le Drian, Zarif also said Iran's military power is for deterrence.

The French foreign minister travelled to Tehran on Monday as part of a European drive to salvage the nuclear deal that US President Donald Trump is threatening to scuttle.

During his two-day visit, Le Drian will meet and exchange views with Iran's President Hassan Rouhani and Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif on bilateral, regional and worldwide issues, Qassemi said.

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Iran's ballistic missile capacity and position "worries us enormously", Le Drian said last week at a news conference with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov.

Kamalvandi said the deal - under which Iran curbed its uranium enrichment to help ensure it was for peaceful purposes only and secured an end to financial sanctions in return - is not re-negotiable, as demanded by the United States.

"Iran's defense program is not the concern of other countries such as France, that they should come and tell us what missiles we can have".

Fars said a group of hardliners gathered at Tehran's Mehrabad International Airport to protest Le Drian's visit.

In 2017, France was Iran's second biggest trade partner in the European Union.

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Despite their differences, Iran has broadly welcomed France's efforts to re-engage with the country.

"The potentials of the two countries is to a degree that if they work together closely, they will overcome the challenges and achieve good results", said Ali Larijani, the Speaker of Iranian Parliament.

Le Drian also early on Monday met Ali Shamkhani, secretary of the Supreme National Security Council and a close ally of Iran's supreme leader Ali Khamenei.

The resolution enshrines the nuclear deal, which itself makes no explicit reference to the ballistics program, but it is unclear whether the wording binds Tehran to an obligatory commitment on missiles. "We have our own concerns and will talk to the different sensibilities of the Iranian system to get our point across".

Weapons programs and Syria aside, Paris and Tehran have growing economic interests and Le Drian is likely to engage Iranian officials in extensive business discussions.

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The agreement was reached more than five months after Merkel's CDU/CSU party alliance won the majority in general elections. It also came after Martin Schulz was forced to hand over the reins as chief of the Social Democrat Party.

Britain, France and Germany are reportedly working with U.S. officials to draw up a strategy to "improve" the Iran nuclear deal in return for Trump keeping the pact alive.

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